Spurred on by success of Crowdfunder
The Totnes Heritage Trust is riding high on community support after raising more than £20,000 in its recent Crowdfunder campaign.
The bid, to raise funds to go towards the internal restoration and reordering of St Mary's Church, attracted the support of 134 people, who between them raised £20,595, plus £2,270 in Gift Aid.
In dozens of comments in support of the project, people praised the 'splendid' vision for wider community use of the 'gem of a building', and its potential to reinvigorate the rest of the town centre.
"I've always felt that this wonderful space, in the heart of Totnes, could become something so much more," said Brian Cook.
Andy Schindler said its use by Sea Change Festival showed its potential, adding: "It is a great focal point to a historic high street too. Wonderful to think this could be more than a restoration, and a much-needed asset to the community."
Totnes Heritage Trust chairman John Birch thanked all who contributed to the Crowdfunder. "This level of community support is just what we needed to demonstrate to grant funders that this project is vital to Totnes, both in securing the future of one of its most historic buildings and in providing a much-needed and desired community resource," he said.
The trust is now preparing to apply for funding for the phase 2 costs of approximately £1.1million. Urgent external works were completed last month, with the last of the scaffolding due to come down next week.
The trust is also preparing for an appearance at the renowned Studio Nine pop-up shop on the high street next month.
"Lucie kindly donated a week at the shop to help the trust raise awareness among both locals and tourists," said fundraiser Anna Ali. "We are incredibly grateful to her, and excited at the opportunity. We will be offering a few unique items for sale, as well as talking to people about the project and of course taking donations."
One of these unqiue items is vegetable-tanned leather keyrings stamped with the St Mary's Totnes logo, crafted from offcuts from Lucie's leather studio upstairs at Studio Nine.
"We were both interested in trying to create something new with that material, reducing waste and using the idea of a circular economy," said Anna. "Ultimately, the St Mary's project should contribute to the town in as many ways as possible. This is a community-led project seeking to benefit the community that this building sits at the heart of. Collaborations like this, and others that we're working on, can help all parties."
As part of the pop-up week - which runs from June 1st to 5th - Totnes landlady and tour guide Kathy Alexander will be offering guided tours of the St Mary's Heritage Area in support of the trust's work. Watch this space for more details.
"Kathy has also kindly helped us come up with a brilliant family activity trail to encourage people young and old to explore and get to know the church and its surrounds," explained Anna. "It's such a magnificent place, but most of us barely know anything about it. Kathy is a wealth of information and fascinating little details. I highly recommend joining one of her tours!"
Live music will also return to St Mary's this month, with Drift Records arranging a socially distanced showcase gig for post-punk band Squid on Thursday, May 20th. More events are in the pipeline.